Welcoming Two New Grant Partners and Several Updates from Our Network

Original publication date: March 2024

In this month’s issue we are thrilled to warmly welcome two new partners in our Building Capacity for Health Advocacy grant cohort, and share several updates, upcoming events, and job opportunities from our network.

Three Things

Human Impact Partners, Transformative Climate Communities for All: Climate funding for unincorporated communities in CA

”What’s My Life Worth?” The Big Business of Denying Medical Care

Watch: A short video, produced by The New York Times on denied medical care

The Next Best Thing podcast

Listen: Episode on, “Collective Action and Mobilizing The Power of Community with Katrina Gamble”, political strategist and founder of Sojourn Strategies

LYDIA ZURAW/KFF HEALTH NEWS; GETTY IMAGES

A conversation with Loretta Ross

Read: Reproductive Justice icon, Loretta Ross, chats with Neel Shah

Welcoming New Grant Partners

We are pleased to welcome Ohio Organizing Collaborative and the National Sea Change Coalition to the Rx Foundation Building Capacity for Health Advocacy network! Both organizations are committed to advancing health justice through their work in communities and in coalitions. Below, we share more about each entity and their current fights for justice.

Ohio Organizing Collaborative

Formed in 2007, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative (OOC) is a grassroots people-centered power organization, uniting base-building community organizing groups, student associations and faith organizations, with labor unions, and policy institutes throughout Ohio. 

They are on a mission to organize everyday Ohioans, building transformative power organizations for racial, social, and economic justice.

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Their key strategies involve:

  • Grassroots community organizing for power: Our grassroots organizing membership projects are led by inclusive leadership teams that run impactful local and statewide issue campaigns and leadership development programs
  • Large scale civic engagement: We build independent political power for our communities by expanding the electorate and engaging no to low propensity voters, especially young voters and voters of color in the civic process. 
  • Narrative change and strategic communications: We construct strategic public communications campaigns and infrastructure with a Race-Class Narrative framework that advances our world view, values and the issues we care about and amplifies our leaders in the public arena.

The OOC is made up of grassroots organizing membership projects and campaigns that span a broad range of leaders, communities, and intersecting issues: students, people of faith, people directly impacted by mass incarceration, unemployed workers, child care providers and the families they serve, and people working in the care economy. Their community organizing and independent civic engagement program have been an anchor to the many campaigns and coalitions across the state working on criminal justice reform, education, healthcare and childcare.

Today, the OOC is building a policy agenda created by women of color for maternal, women’s and family health by centering the voices of those most marginalized by our healthcare system. They are also building a more fair and representative democracy in Ohio by building collective power to hold elected officials accountable to their communities.

National Sea Change Coalition

In 2022, the National Sea Change Coalition (NSCC) launched to build community, peer support, and collective power by and for those directly impacted by substance use disorder (SUD). 

Building on their New Jersey-based power model to normalize harm reduction (Sea Change Recovery Community Organization and Harm Reduction Center), the NSCC unites harm reduction focused recovery community organizations and community organizers across the country to share their best practices in policy and implementation, develop communications and narrative, and foster compassionate support to identify a path to full harm reduction on a national scale.

Last August, NSCC joined more than 130 organizations, representing advocates and experts on public health, overdose prevention, and drug policy, to draft and release A Roadmap for Opioid Settlement Funds: Supporting Communities and Ending the Overdose Crisis. The Roadmap offers compelling recommendations to the many states, counties, and municipalities throughout the country, who are tasked with deciding how to spend their county’s share of settlement dollars from the 2021 nationwide settlement agreement to resolve all opioid litigation at a rate of $26 billion over the next 18 years.

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Speaking of the importance of how opioid settlement funds are allocated and spent, Elizabeth Burke Beaty, Founder and CEO of both Sea Change RCO and the NSCC, shared, “This is the people’s money. It belongs to the people who have died, who have been left behind.”

Some of the evidence-based solutions as recommended in the Roadmap, and proven to reduce overdoses, save lives, and give those with SUD opportunities for effective treatment rather than putting them behind bars, include:

  • Funding access to all forms of FDA-approved medication for addiction treatment (MAT) and harm reduction services such as syringe service programs, access to naloxone, and the establishment of overdose prevention centers (OPCs).
  • Expanding housing, outreach and wraparound support services for people who use drugs and people with drug-related convictions that could bar them from critical benefits.
  • Addressing collateral consequences of current War on Drug policies, including supporting second-chance employment, recovery-to-work programs, and the expungement of past criminal convictions.

Updates from Our Grant Partner Network

Health and Reentry Project

The Health and Reentry Project (HARP) is a cross-sector initiative to improve the health of people returning to communities after leaving jails and prisons. HARP works to achieve stronger policy and practice at the intersection of the health care and criminal justice systems by building bridges across sectors and stakeholders. Their goal is to improve the health, safety, and wellbeing of people and communities.

HARP, in partnership with the National Academy of State Health Policy (NASHP), recently announced the prospective launch of a State Learning and Action Network to support state officials from across health and human services, behavioral health, corrections, and public safety to exchange information, best practices, and resources as they advance aligned reentry policies and programs.

Individuals with involvement in the correctional system need access to coordinated programs to improve health, behavioral health, and social outcomes to support successful reentry into the community and to prevent repeated movement in and out of the correctional system. States and the federal government have begun making historic changes to the Medicaid program to support the health and well-being of individuals returning to the community from correctional facilities. These changes represent an unprecedented opportunity to advance community health and safety, and success requires building bridges across sectors, but many states need to establish or expand key linkages and partnerships.  

The Learning and Action Network will focus on policies and strategies to meet the health and social needs of individuals leaving incarceration with a particular focus on how Medicaid, health and behavioral health systems, and the corrections system can coordinate to reach these goals. This network will provide a platform for facilitated peer learning through conversations every other month and communication via a listserv between meetings. To join the listserv and receive direct invitations to future meetings, please complete this form.

Institute for Exceptional Care

Institute for Exceptional Care (IEC) works to make healthcare better and safer for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. That includes conditions like autism, Down Syndrome, and ADHD, often referred to as “IDD.” 

This month, they celebrated the launch of “The National Roadmap for Disability-Inclusive Healthcare“. The Roadmap is a plan created for clinicians to give the best healthcare possible to people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD). It provides clear goals and commonsense actions that different groups can take to inspire change among both practicing clinicians and clinicians-in-training.

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Put together by the Action to Build Clinical Confidence and Culture (ABC3) Coalition, a diverse coalition made up of people with IDD, care partners/caregivers, clinicians, and other healthcare leaders, all passionate about creating safer and better healthcare for people with IDD, the Roadmap was developed because we all deserve the best possible healthcare. 

Finally, last November, they officially launched the IDD Advocate Corps, a groundbreaking community of self-advocates, care partners/givers, and healthcare professionals who promote the rights of individuals with IDD within the healthcare system. Recently, Corps members have decided to focus first on advocating for changes within hospitals and health systems. If you are interested in joining the IDD Advocate Corps, fill out this survey, and someone with IEC will contact you.

National Network for Arab American Communities

Established in 2004, the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) is a growing network of independent Arab American community-based organizations across the country. The strength of these member organizations is built around the grassroots constituencies they serve through a range of programs, outreach and advocacy. NNAAC’s primary mission is to build the capacity of Arab American nonprofit organizations that focus on the needs and issues impacting their local community while collectively addressing those issues nationally.

Just this week, NNAAC celebrated the success of a major step towards being accurately counted and represented – under newly revised standards for data on race and ethnicity, the federal government will now collect and report data on Arab American communities under a “Middle Eastern or North African” (MENA) reporting category!

NNAAC has been closely involved in this lengthy process through the years, working with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) when it began its own detailed process in June 2022. Through their #CountMENAIn campaign, they collectively submitted nearly two-thirds of the 20,000 comments reviewed by the OMB’s Interagency Technical Working Group, which also held almost 100 listening sessions to finalize these important standards. NNAAC crushed its public comment goal of 10,000 submissions, after mobilizing countless individuals to submit their comments!

Their advocacy was focused on one clear goal for the community: to require the collection and publication of detailed data on Middle Eastern and North African communities through a combined question on race and ethnicity. 

NNAAC supported its members in multiple ways to make this happen, including through the creation of a #CountMENAIn toolkit, linked below. They assisted members in educating their community members on this issue and provided training on community engagement. Additionally, as a part of this campaign, three letters were sent to the OMB: one laying out the civil rights implications of not having a MENA category, which had 106 signatures from partner organizations; one from researchers laying out the value of a MENA category for research on minority and other underserved groups and research on disparities between racial and ethnic groups, for which 28 researchers signed on; and one from state and local government officials discussing how a MENA category will allow state and local offices to better serve minorities, signed by 26 state and local officials.

The creation of this MENA category will have impacts on education, political representation and voter protection, healthcare, small businesses, arts & culture, and more. Of course, the work is not done. There are still aspects of the final revisions that NNACC plans to work on in the coming years. For instance, the OMB has provided agencies the chance to opt out of the detailed data requirement, which would limit the ability of agencies to produce the most valuable and accurate data on MENA subgroups, like the Arab American community. To ensure that Arab Americans are included to the fullest extent possible, NNAAC will continue to engage the government to ensure that agencies opt in to the detailed data requirement. Only then will we have access to the vital information used to enforce civil rights law and make needed programs more equitable for our communities.

You can read more about these revisions in a blog post from U.S. Chief Statistician Karin Orvis on OMB’s website, which includes an Arabic language translation, and can view the updated Directive No. 15 on the Federal Register as well as at www.spd15revision.gov.

On the topic of MENA health, NNAAC has identified significant barriers to health equity in Arab American communities, through the help of its member human service organizations. These barriers include community education, non-profit education, capacity restraints in non-profits, as well as legislation. In response to this NNAAC has worked with its members on policies that will ensure equitable health services for Arab American communities.

Last April (2023), the Health Equity and MENA Community Inclusion (HEMCI) Act was introduced. This bill would enable the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide healthcare services to individuals from the MENA region that are culturally and linguistically competent. The bill would also require HHS to produce and publish a comprehensive report on the health needs of MENA individuals. In 2024, NNAAC is building support for the HEMCI Act in both the House and Senate, mobilizing NNAAC communities across the country to call on their elected officials in support of HEMCI.

Tennessee Health Care Campaign

Founded in 1989, the Tennessee Health Care Campaign (THCC) is a statewide nonprofit on a mission to advocate for policies and programs that improve the health and wellbeing of Tennesseans. Their vision has always been that ALL Tennesseans will have affordable, high quality, and equitable access to healthcare. While we are closer to that vision than in 1989, there is much more work to be done in Tennessee and at the federal level to realize that vision.

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This month, THCC celebrated the launch of their report, “Saving Tennessee’s Rural Hospitals: Strategies for Success”. It’s the culmination of two years of participatory research, in partnership with Vanderbilt University. 

THCC interviewed key stakeholders in five rural hospitals, from the Mississippi River to Appalachia, asking them how their hospitals have stayed open, despite the odds. Two key policy recommendations emerged from their research:

  • Rural hospitals are struggling under the burden of uncompensated care. In the words of one CEO, “Medicaid Expansion would have been glorious.”
  • Reimbursement rates for rural hospitals are not sustainable. TennCare/Medicaid needs to ensure that payments for services cover the reasonable cost of care in rural settings.

The report also highlights the importance of community involvement in sustaining rural hospitals. 

Despite playing a crucial part in the lives of many Tennesseans, rural hospitals face many challenges that jeopardize their futures.

Vot-ER

Vot-ER is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to integrate civic engagement into healthcare. 

The team at Vot-ER is hard at work gearing up for impact in 2024, and recently celebrated growing their organization by up to a third!

Additionally, they have recently announced a partnership with the Health Podcast Network. By connecting more healthcare institutions and providers with the tools, training, and community to register colleagues and patients to vote, Vot-ER is promoting civic engagement and creating healthier communities across the United States.

Resources, Events, and More

Job Opportunities

Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE) builds grassroots power to create social and economic justice for working class, female, immigrant, black, and brown communities in Los Angeles. To do this, SCOPE organizes communities, develops leaders, collaborates through strategic alliances, builds capacity through training programs, and educates South LA’s residents about policies that affect quality of life in our region.

SCOPE is currently seeking a Health Justice Policy Associate to join their team. The Health Justice Policy Associate role offers an exciting opportunity to coordinate SCOPE’s campaign strategies on health justice policy issues facing low-income communities of color in Los Angeles. The position involves conducting policy research and analysis on issues related to oral health access and air quality improvement. Responsibilities also include leading and facilitating coalition efforts with community residents, partner organizations and policymakers to develop and advance policy recommendations. Additionally, the role entails crafting policy briefs, reports, and other materials to educate staff, policymakers, grassroots members, and the public on relevant issues. The ideal candidate is a responsible self-starter who can drive and manage campaigns forward with high-quality analysis that frames policy debates in a way that’s informed by community recommendations.

Events

A Vision for the World We Want: Building Cross-Sector Strategy Towards a Radical Democracy & Regenerative Economy, with Rising Majority | 4/23 at 2pm Eastern via Zoom

On April 23rd at 2pm Eastern, we are hosting a Power is a Social Determinant of Health session with Rising Majority. 

Rising Majority was initiated following the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections by Movement 4 Black Lives and a core group of movement organizations who identified the need for us to build a more coordinated, powerful, progressive force on the left. Our multiracial network of organizations serves communities across the United States and covers a wide range of issue areas.

In this session, you will learn about Rising Majority’s Vision for 2050, 10-year Strategy, and upcoming Movement Congress. Rising Majority’s Loan Tran will share more about building collective power and inspiring progressive formations to work together towards greater unity, a clearer vision, and a shared strategy.

Green Arrows

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